Motorsport News - US
Bryan Sellers Grand Prix of Mosport preview
17th July 2012
Factory Driver Looks to Strike Falken Porsche Balance at Fastest ALMS Track
If you want to talk about speed with Bryan Sellers, talk about Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). You just better talk fast because you can rest assured that the Braselton, Ga.-resident will be. Known as Mosport International Raceway since its creation in 1961, the fastest track on the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrn (ALMS) schedule may have a new name but it provides the same brutally fast speeds and daunting challenge it always has. As Sellers readies for the July 22 Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport with co-driver Wolf Henzler (Germany), the two are tasked not only with winning on one of the sport's most unforgiving racetracks, but also with further tuning the new-for-2012 No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Falken Azenis racing slick.
The ALMS holds court at most of North America's iconic road courses but none so readily draws back to the magical times of the sport than does CTMP. Now under new ownership, the 2.459-mile, 10-turn racecourse north of Toronto has been a regular feature on the ALMS schedule since 1999. From the time of that premiere season of the Series, the track has been treating drivers and fans to a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster joyride. And, like all joyrides, one misstep can take an endorphin-spiked adrenaline rush over the precipice to disaster. A driver's hands must work fast at Canada's legendary track but his mind must remain calm; a trait that Sellers exemplifies.
With the introduction of an updated 911 GT3 RSR this season, Porsche teams have had to apply new techniques to draw the car nearer to its peak-performance envelope. The significance of the car's changes - both mechanical and aerodynamic - was under appreciated in early-season testing and racing. It is now understood that the driver and engineers must take a wholly new mindset with the setup of the car. With this realization as well as additional testing and rule waivers by the governing body, the performance gap has significantly decreased as the knowledge-base has increased.
For Sellers - a Falken Tire factory and lead tire development driver - and Team Falken Tire, the charge to advance the tire in addition to the car makes for a significantly more challenging proposition than other Porsche teams face. In parallel but joint development programs, Sellers has been a part of learning what the all-new Porsche platform needs to be fast and consistent at the wide variety of tracks the ALMS runs on. Simultaneously, he has done the same with the Falken race tire. In attempt to maximize the new car, Falken introduced a new taller and wider front tire at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. While early-season testing suggested an improvement, real-world competition proved the opposite. In large part because of Sellers' input, Falken has now opted to return to its more traditional "shorter" tire until more is understood of the dynamic relationship between rubber and ride. With minds now open to a whole new catalog of setup options, CTMP will begin to show how successful the new approach is.
ESPN2 will broadcast the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport starting at 1 p.m. (EDT) on July 22. Live flag-to-flag streaming of the event can be seen on ESPN3 beginning at 11:45 a.m. Multiple in-car cameras, available at www.ALMS.com,will complement race coverage. Live coverage of qualifying in all classes can be found on ESPN3 opening with GTC class at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, July 21. Live timing and scoring of all sessions, including qualifying and the race, is offered at www.ALMS.com. Practice begins on Saturday morning.
On racing at CTMP: "The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is speed. It is one of the fastest and most daunting tracks in our whole series. It is one of the greatest tracks left in North America. It is so raw and unchanged that it makes it absolutely crazy to drive.
The track takes a different mental approach. Because of the speed you have to prepare yourself and be ready. For me, on a track like this, your strategy changes as well. This isn't a place where you can just suck it up and drive harder. You have to put a huge focus on car setup and make sure the balance is great so you don't have to drive around problems. That is the first priority for Team Falken Tire entering the weekend."
On finding the right setup for the Team Falken Tire Porsche: "The straight-line speed is very important at CTMP. However, the corners are very fast and you spend a lot of time in the corners as they are very long duration. So you are not able to just throw away the car balance for straight-line speed. Finding a fast and raceable setup is important everywhere we go but here you have to get it right or you'll be nowhere. You can't carry the car here."
On simultaneously developing the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and the Falken Azenis race tire: "The difference between car and tire development is very distinctive. The two feel very separate and after a fair amount of time doing both you can separate the two. For Team Falken Tire both are very important. However, clearly the tire development is our priority!
We knew from the beginning that the new Porsche would take a different setup from the last generation, but we were not sure how much it would be. We are constantly tuning and changing our setup to adapt to the Falken tire and track changes. We are getting our heads around where we need to be with the Team Falken Tire Porsche and how to adapt last year's setups to work
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